SEATTLE - Some charitable foundations which receive and grant millions of dollars of donations in Washington are making a public pledge to do more to benefit those who need help the most. They've agreed to allocate at least half of their grant money to causes that benefit the poor, the elderly, and other groups that are struggling - and one-quarter of their dollars to end the root causes of social inequities.
For the Social Justice Fund Northwest
, signing the pledge fits well with what it already does, according to executive director Zeke Spier. Helping with immediate needs such as homelessness is important, he says, but only part of the bigger picture.
"The challenge is that, if we don't actually invest in organizations working to change those underlying issues, then we just get caught in a perpetual cycle of continually trying to keep one finger in the dike without actually fixing it."
The new pledge, called "Philanthropy's Promise," is from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
. More than 60 charitable foundations have signed it so far this month.
Philanthropy often is associated with wealth, but Spier says many foundations encourage contributions from anyone at any income level. The goal is to put the money to the best use for causes that are important to the donors.
"In fact, people at low incomes give higher percentages of their dollars than people who are wealthy. Really, everyone can be a philanthropist, and all of us can be strategic, in terms of really trying to create the world that we want to see."
Social Justice Fund Northwest grants money to a wide range of smaller projects, from urban gardens and community radio, to farmworkers' and youth organizations in Washington and five other states.
Learn more about the pledge, and see who signed it, at philanthropyspromise.org